Cannibal Creative Team Interview
Interview conducted by James Ferguson
I don't know about you, but I'm starting to get tired of zombies. They're everywhere now. You can't throw a rock without hitting a shuffling member of the undead, hungering for brains. This is why Cannibal, the upcoming series from Image Comics, is so refreshing. It centers on a small town as a virus begins to spread, giving the infected an insatiable hunger for human flesh. They're not dead themselves. They're just so hungry and there's only one thing that can satisfy that craving. Pringles. No, wait, I got that wrong. Anyway, I had a chance to speak to writers Jennifer Young and Brian Buccellato, and artist Matias Bergara about the series.
James Ferguson: How sudden did this pandemic rise up?
Jennifer Young / Brian Buccellato: When the story opens, the pandemic hasn’t exactly hit. It’s one of those things that you hear about in the news, like the ZIKA virus or BATH SALTS, but never really see. The cases are few and far between at this point in the story… and the government hasn’t declared it an epidemic. Our story doesn’t actually focus on the “rising up” of this epidemic... it focuses on a small Florida town’s first experiences with a virus that people know about but have never seen before.
JF: How many people would you say are infected?
JENN/BRIAN: Across the coast, there are a few thousand people who are infected. In the town of Willow, you can count on one hand the number of people who are infected when the story starts.
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JF: Is this limited to just the Southeastern United States?
JENN/BRIAN: The virus has reached farther, but our story focuses ONLY on that region. This book is about the town of Willow, and how the virus affects their lives.
JF: Has the government gotten involved? I feel like this is the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, where everything goes wrong.
JENN/BRIAN: The government has NOT stepped in at this point. And honestly, Cannibal doesn’t intend to tell the “fall of civilization” story. We actually call it an “anti-apocalypse” story because mankind is too stubborn (or too smart and resilient) to let something like cannibals walking around stop them. People have such a resolve and deeply engrained desire to maintain the status quo, that they will assimilate the idea of cannibals into their normal life. They’ll arm themselves and be wary of their neighbors… but will refuse to give in.
JF: Aside from someone biting your arm off, how can you tell if someone's infected?
JENN/ BRIAN: Like many diseases, there are NO visible signs of the virus. It feels like the worst sort of addiction that builds up and builds up until the infected is overcome by the lust for flesh. They can try to fight it, but eventually they will succumb to the desire to eat human flesh. And then afterwards, most folks feel instant regret and disgust by what they have done.
JF: Can you tell me more about the Hansen family at the heart of this story?
BB: The Hansens are a small and tight-knit family that owns the local watering hole, The Hog’s River Bar & Grill. Roy is a widower who raised his two sons, Grady and Cash, by himself. The bar is the center of the universe for Cash and Roy, but not for Grady, who has a wanderer’s spirit. He works commercial fishing boats and is only home for a couple weeks at a time. Sadly, leaving home created a wedge between him and his brother Cash, who idolized him and couldn’t understand his need to get away. When the cannibal virus hits home, Grady is forced to set aside his wandering ways and be there for his father… and a brother who not only resents him, but blames him for cannibals coming to Willow.
JY: The Hansen family also extends to Jolene, who is Cash’s longtime girlfriend and loved by all. The Sheriff and Danny could also be included in that extension as no one has known each other longer than Roy and the Sheriff. Danny has been a dear friend of Grady’s and because he tends to be unguided and reckless, Roy has been somewhat of a short-term father figure to him.
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JF: Since the disease causes you to hunger for human flesh, what are some of your favorite zombie movies, comics, or TV shows?
BB: The original Dawn of the Dead is my favorite. I also enjoy The Walking Dead in both comics and TV.
JY: I would have to say 28 Days Later or the Italian flick, Zombie 2.
Matias Bergara: I think the original Romero's Night of the Living Dead is a true gritty classic on the subject. I love the Italian sub-genre films of the ‘80s like Cannibal Holocaust and Zombi 3 - insane and ridiculous movies, very gory and terrible at times. The ‘50s EC horror comics are really fun and entertaining and use a extremely dramatic and exaggerated approach to horror stories and monsters.
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JF: What do you think human flesh tastes like?
MB: Anthropophagi usually say it's kind of sweet-tasting.
BB: The obvious answer is chicken. But I like to think it tastes like evil.
JY: I’d like to imagine it is something like a nice Chateaubriand steak with a glass of Cabernet. Maybe some peppercorn sauce…
HorrorTalk would like to thank Brian Buccellato, Jennifer Young, and Matias Bergara for speaking to us about their upcoming series, Cannibal. The first issue is currently available for pre-order from your local comic shop.
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